As I suspected, Trump’s meeting with Putin did indeed turn out to be a damp squib, at least relative to the unrealistic expectations that all sorts of strongly ideological camps had built up around it.
Putin repeated his insistence that Russia did not meddle in the US elections, congratulated Trump on North Korea, acknowledged that the two countries need to be responsible about nuclear weapons, voiced his disagreement with the US withdrawal from the JCPOA, and repeated his customary boilerplate about how the Ukrainians need to stick with the Minsk Agreement. Trump, for his part, said that it was a productive meeting, congratulated Putin on a successful FIFA World Cup and on “bombing the hell out of ISIS”, and promised there would be further meetings.
So, all really banal stuff, really – even if the “Resistance” was in heavier than usual “zrada” mode about its denunciations of Trump as a traitor, as a puppet of Putler, and so forth.
However, the American Deep State let its feelings be known with actions, not just words: “Russian National Charged in Conspiracy to Act as an Agent of the Russian Federation Within the United States.”
A criminal complaint was unsealed today in the District of Columbia charging a Russian national with conspiracy to act as an agent of the Russian Federation within the United States without prior notification to the Attorney General.
The announcement was made by Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers, U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Jessie K. Liu, and Nancy McNamara, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.
Maria Butina, 29, a Russian citizen residing in Washington D.C., was arrested on July 15, 2018, in Washington, D.C., and made her initial appearance this afternoon before Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. She was ordered held pending a hearing set for July 18, 2018.
According to the affidavit in support of the complaint, from as early as 2015 and continuing through at least February 2017, Butina worked at the direction of a high-level official in the Russian government who was previously a member of the legislature of the Russian Federation and later became a top official at the Russian Central Bank. This Russian official was sanctioned by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control in April 2018.
The court filings detail the Russian official’s and Butina’s efforts for Butina to act as an agent of Russia inside the United States by developing relationships with U.S. persons and infiltrating organizations having influence in American politics, for the purpose of advancing the interests of the Russian Federation. The filings also describe certain actions taken by Butina to further this effort during multiple visits from Russia and, later, when she entered and resided in the United States on a student visa. The filings allege that she undertook her activities without officially disclosing the fact that she was acting as an agent of Russian government, as required by law.
In the Drumpf Truther segment of American society, Butina has attained minor notoriety as an agent of Russian influence. These conspiracy theories revolve around the Kremlin’s alleged links to the NRA, which Russiagaters allege is used as a conduit to fund Republican politicians. In some of the wilder fantasies floating around “Resistance” hives such as /r/politics, this is something that could be used to topple Trump, the GOP, and the NRA all in one go, ushering in a golden age of gender neutral bathrooms, abolition of freeze peach, and nuclear-assisted architectural redevelopment in Moscow.
However, in Russia itself, Maria Butina is known as one of the prime proponents of increased gun rights, and certainly its most telegenic one.